A few weeks ago, we scattered the final bit of ashes that used to be Stormy. My wife and I, as well as my mother and our friend Carol, had picked out her favorite spots. Some where she loved to roll around, others the “Man, have I got to go” spots she always ran toward when the door opened. We invited mom and Carol because they’d been Stormy’s dog-sitters over the years, and had taken great care of her.
It wasn’t easy. And for several weeks while we waited for some construction next door to finish up, all we had for a dog was the knowledge that Stormy would be at her “forever home” until someone dug up the lot and built a new home – long after we are all gone.
This past Saturday our new friend arrived: Chewy.
He’s a pure-bred Courtemanche. Probably Australian Shepherd and something else. But we didn’t care. We’d worked with the excellent people of Aussie Rescue of Minnesota on finding a dog when the Minnesota Sheltie Rescue people were blissfully without any rescue dogs. Stormy was a rescue from them, and the glut of Shelties from puppy mills has finally dried up.
Chewy was the second dog we met. The first one was a cute puppy, but puppies are for people with children, and she found a home right away as we suspected she would. That was good, because we met Chewy the next day and fell for him. He was super timid, and leery. When you weigh 50 pounds and some guy 6 times your size shows up, it’s a bit strange. But he got less timid as an hour went by, and was so gentle and eager that he left a big mark on us.
Now we had to wait for the fence to be built again. After a few weeks, we asked to meet Chewy again. We spent almost 2 hours with him at his most recent foster home. Took him for a walk, and talked to Barb and Jim, his fosters. At the end of the visit, he came over without any encouragement and asked to be petted. His timidity had obviously been greatly helped by the lavishing of affection from the fosters. They really helped him adjust. When we left, we told them we wanted Chewy.
Time dragged by, and we feared he would have to find a home if we couldn’t get the builder to do the fencing soon. Last week it finally went up. Kip and I reinforced the perimeter again with rock, and were ready.
Saturday Chewy came to his forever home. The day was one of easing into relationships, and we spent a lot of it outside where he felt comfortable. God blessed us with good weather for the day.
He slept in my room that night – he was out like a light. The guy was exhausted from all the stress and excitement.
Sunday we left him confined when we went to church. He escaped, and much to our glee, destroyed nothing over $1.00 in value. He pulled some yarn out of a bag and was very upset when we got home. He knew he had broken rules, but he couldn’t possibly know what they were yet. No problem.
As the day went by, he grew more comfortable. In and out without bribes, and we even got him into his indoor kennel with only a little bribery and a gentle push. An hour later, when we sprung him, he checked out the house again, and within 15 minutes he went into the kennel and flopped down. He liked it in there. When bedtime came, he chose the kennel over my room. I guess my snoring is an issue…
Monday morning you would have thought he’d lived with us for years. It went swimmingly, and when I put him in his kennel, he did something that Stormy had never done in her time with us: he licked my face.
Now, I’m not faulting Stormy. Poor kid had a very rough 8 years before she met us, and was never one who played with toys or snuggled. She loved us, and was fun to have as a friend, but she was always reserved. I can’t blame her: the human race had not earned her trust.
Chewy is his own story. And that face lick tells me an enormous amount about the joy he will bring to our lives. I was very excited about going home after work on Monday and seeing him, sitting with him on the back steps, and starting a new love affair with a dog. I am so happy that tears are not out of the question. And he rewarded me with quality time on the back steps – the place where I’ve always spent the best hours with all of the dogs in my life. I think that’s an East Side of Saint Paul thing – why sit on the fancy porch if you have steps.
Here’s the boy yesterday morning – he dozed off and wanted to make sure he knew where I was. I will always try to be right where you need me, Chewy. In your heart. You sure are stealing mine.